Medi funds go on cars, travel
ABORIGINAL HEALTH SERVICE ‘DIVERTS $1M-PLUS TO DIRECTOR, FAMILY MEMBERS’
‘I’d just urge the commonwealth to just really try and get this sorted because it seems to be dragging on’ JUDITH DALEY MAGISTRATE
An Aboriginal medical service accused of serious Medicare fraud later diverted more than $1 million in government revenue to a director and her family members for loans, cars, computers, jewellery and other expenses unrelated to the business, according to documents filed in the Supreme Court.
The controversy surrounding Jenni Anderson and Murri Health, now known as the Caboolture Community Medical Centre, has continued long after the alleged fraud offences and raises questions over the level of commonwealth oversight.
At its prime, the southeast Queensland service was feted by politicians for photo opportunities, and within two years of its 2011 launch was said to have more than 5800 patients on its books.
The Medicare offences allegedly occurred within those first two years, however the claims of financial mismanagement continued even after criminal charges were laid earlier this year.
The $1.04m was said to have been diverted between April 2016 and August 2018. According to the documents filed in court, Ms Anderson and family members allegedly continued to receive funds from CCMC that they were not entitled to even after she moved to NSW to run the Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre.
Biripi now faces being placed into administration, despite turning a profit in 2016-17 when it kept expenditure below its $13 million in revenue.
Ms Anderson’s alleged mismanagement at Murri Health and CCMC is the subject of a Supreme Court civil action launched by fellow director Anita Kemp, while her role at Biripi is being scrutinised by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations. ORIC had been petitioned by 131 community members over Biripi’s “rapidly declining cash reserves” and gave the corporation until yesterday to respond to a showcause notice.
Ms Anderson has not been accused of any criminal offence.
The only person charged over the alleged Murri Health fraud, Brisbane man Jimmy Chet Heterick, 47, stands accused of two counts of deception and dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage for a company called Redbob.
Redbob is owned by trusts associated with Ms Anderson and Ms Kemp and employed health practitioners for Murri Health. Ms Anderson had several family members employed and Mr Heterick was referred to as her brother and, at one point, the staff member who handled Medicare billing.
Mr Heterick’s case was mentioned in the Brisbane Magistrates Court yesterday but he was not required to appear. The court heard parts of the 15-volume brief of evidence had been misplaced and the original Medicare investigators had left government, making preparations difficult.
“I’d just urge the commonwealth to just really try and get this sorted because it seems to be dragging on a lot,” magistrate Judith Daley told the court.
Ms Kemp, meanwhile, has asked the Supreme Court to order Ms Anderson to make amends for the alleged mismanagement at Murri Health and CCMC by selling what remains of the business to her at a fair price.
In documents filed with the court, Ms Kemp’s lawyers detail $1.04 million in non-CCMCrelated expenses that need to be accounted for. They include $697,681.33 in loans to Ms Anderson, $116,119.17 in loans to an Anderson family member, $82,497.88 in expenses for vehicles not owned by CCMC, $24,742.54 in Anderson family travel, $17,635 for computers, $4194.70 in legal fees for an Anderson family member in relation to a criminal matter, $2235.74 in traffic fines, $2222.19 in building equipment, $1058.87 for meat and $635.45 for jewellery.
The Department of Health has rejected freedom-of-information requests for details of all Medicare billing through Murri Health and CCMC.